January 27th, 2021
Matthew 11:1-6, 16-19
When Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he went on from there to teach and preach in their cities. Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, "Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?" And Jesus answered them, "Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me....But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to their playmates, 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!' Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds."
What John the Baptist was missing was hope. Trapped in a cell, beheading on the way, surrounded by enemies who wanted his life and he could not figure out why the coming One had not rescued him from such suffering and danger. This suffering led to doubt and doubt led to a lack of hope. What was Jesus’ response to his doubt in the face of his confusion and his suffering?
Jesus did not give him empty platitudes about life. He didn’t promise him that he would escape beheading or be set free from jail tomorrow. He didn’t promise that the road would get easier or that his cousin would take Herod and his mistress down.
What Jesus did was show John who he was. Look at me and my works and know that I am the One anointed by God for the flourishing of the world.
It is in our reliance upon the knowledge and trustworthiness of Jesus that hope fruits most fully. It is in knowing Jesus as the sovereign Lord who is full of mercy and grace to the ones who, though confused and wondering, entrust themselves to him even when they can’t figure out what is to come. Does death lay at the door? I trust that Jesus, the bringer of newness, knows what he is doing, even if he lets me die. He is good and he is wise, that He is the resurrection and the life. Like Abram's faith that the Lord would raise the son of promise from the dead in order to keep His word, so does faith in Jesus entrust our very expectations of good when the days are the bleakest and most confusing.
However, Jesus is also very clear that if you reject him, complaining that he doesn’t fit your system or deliver what you demand, whining like children when the world doesn't do what they demand, then you have no part of him. Just as those who don’t reject him are blessed, so those who do reject him are under the curse. Hard-hearted rejection that places oneself at the pinnacle of wisdom and the judge of righteousness is an affront to the Blessed King and a mutinous attempt on his throne.
So, there is a difference between the doubt that submits to Jesus and the doubt that rejects Jesus. If you are wrestling with the former today, confused as to how it all works, see the heart of Jesus and the works of Jesus, and entrust yourself to his goodness, His sovereignty, and His faithfulness.
But, if you are the latter, rejecting Jesus because he doesn’t fit your system or deliver what you demand, you need to question what you are really hoping in to make things right, and if it is more capable than Jesus of delivering justice. You are trusting in something in order to make your assertion, but can that something really uphold your moral ground and your expectation of life? Jesus saw all that heard his words and did not submit to them to be building a house on a sandy foundation: it will come crashing down. Will you, instead, entrust yourself to the Divine Architect to set the course and provide the means for the building of your life? All who trust Him find that their houses will stand even when the floodwaters rise.